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Tottenham v Lyon: Europa League Match Preview
Updated published : 14 Feb 2013 10:04:34
Andre Villas-Boas is treating Tottenham Hotspur's Europa League tie against Olympique Lyon as if it was a Champions League tie, but not in the way you might think. Instead of using it prove just how great the Europa League is and to justify his prioritization of the competition, he wants it to be Champions League preparation for next season.
"This could be a test of whether we're good enough to play in the Champions League,'' Villas-Boas said. "I think we've been handed the most difficult draw of this knock-out phase. This is like a Champions League tie.
"Lyon represent a club with tremendous Champions League experience in recent years. It will be a good test for Tottenham. It's always going to be a learning experience for us and I think it can serve that purpose towards the future, that's for sure.''
Brad Friedel, and not former Lyon man Hugo Lloris, will start in goal for Tottenham against the French club.
Emmanuel Adebayor will lead the line in the Europa League clash at White Hart Lane as Jermain Defoe is ruled out with an ankle injury.
Long-term absentees Sandro and Younes Kaboul remain out, but Kaboul should be available again in two weeks' time.
Midfielder Tom Huddlestone is ruled out with a minor knee injury but new signing Lewis Holtby is available for selection.
However, Villas-Boas is more concerned with allowing players to leave the club. The Portueguse said he will have to transfer one of his centre-backs at the end of the season, with William Gallas out of contract in June - two months before he turns 36.
"We won't start another season with five (centre-backs), for sure," Villas-Boas said.
"It's a difficult one. We have five top central defenders at the moment - a mixture of young players coming through with lots of experience, and then you have such tremendous central defenders as William, Michael Dawson and Kaboul.
With the first leg at home, Spurs need a win, and preferably a clean sheet that they can take to France next week. A few extra goals from the Emmanuel Adebayor-led attack wouldn't hurt either.
Tottenham: Friedel; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto; Parker, Dembele; Lennon, Bale, Dempsey; Adebayor.
Lyon: Vercoutre; Reveillere, Dabo, Bisevac, Umtiti; Grenier, Malbranque, Gonalons, Ghezzal; Lopez, Gomis.